For years I have considered the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to be an unsavoury organisation.
My disillusion really set in when I realised the ABC had no intention of giving fair and balanced coverage to the story of the century:accumulating evidence that the official story about 9/11 – Founding Myth of the “War on Terror” – is baloney.
That was years ago. Soon I realised the ABC’s reporting about wars such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria is more like war propaganda than genuine impartial news coverage, that its narrative on Israel/Palestine is biased and deceptive – and that a strand of Judeophilia runs through the organisation that’s inappropriate for a national broadcaster in a multi-cultural society.
In short, the ABC exercises bias and practises deception. These are not good traits for a publicly funded organisation. The ABC’s Charter, remarkably, does not require the organisation to tell the truth. Staff – presumably with the Board’s connivance – take considerable advantage of this convenient omission. We, the public, pay for a service that practices systematic deception and exercises gross bias on what are arguably the most crucial issues of the day – matters pertaining to war and peace.
ABC's Breakfast News duo - smug war sales every morning with coffee, toast & marmalade
Yet I’ve also acknowledged throughout that good people do work for the ABC and that some of its services are high quality – such as sports (although I don’t honestly know because I rarely watch it), arts (usually BBC re-runs, but even so…), gardening (definitely fine Australian programs!) and local news. I usually threw in the latter acknowledgement out of a sense that at least at a local/regional level, ABC news coverage is likely to be reasonably truthful.
Whether it’s true that the ABC’s local/regional coverage is truthful and balanced throughout the continent is debatable. I should be honest and admit I don’t listen enough to ABC Far North know. But it’s nice to be charitable.
Yet whether or not local my ABC does do a good job reporting, interviewing and storing information about our ongoing political process, one thing is apparent. It is NOT keen on giving the public easy access to this information.
ABC Far North: It will decide on what's news and the circumstances under which is will be made available!
During the recent Queensland election campaign, I didn’t catch any of the interviews conducted by ABC Far North with the candidates on local radio, but assumed I’d be able to access them online after the election. At the very least, I thought, interviews with winning candidates would be downloadable from the website – ideally (but not necessarily) with an accompanying transcript..
How wrong I was. When I checked, NO interviews with candidates were on the website. I phoned ABC Far North to ask if that could be rectified. My inquiries were treated like nuisance calls. When I finally spoke to the Station Manager she was abrasive from the outset and at one point remarked on poor rates of pay at the ABC as some kind of justification for not providing this material to the public via the ABC website. She referred me eventually to the “Cross Media Reporter”. With her assent, he reluctantly promised to send me one audio file of the interview with my own new local MP – Michael Trout – by email. It arrived in my email the next day, without any conditions set as far as I could see. I put the file online on the website of a local community group and notified him, with thanks.
Happy Sam Davis, Cross Media Reporter
The next morning Sam the Cross Media Reporter called. He was extremely cross and demanded prompt removal of the audio file from the web, as it breached the ABC’s copyright.
Of course I comply with legitimate copyright infringement notices (actually it’s the first I’ve ever had!) and agreed to remove it. But I also asked him to put the file up on the ABC website, so I could still link to it. What’s the harm in that – especially as his time had already been invested locating the file from ABC archives?
But no, Sam won’t put this material on the ABC website and is vehement it has no “news value” at all.
I’ve issued a formal complaint to the ABC and we’ll see whether it gets anywhere. Past experience has not been encouraging.
Here’s a challenge to Mark Scott, ABC Managing Director, who himself maintains a 100% track record of never replying to my many tweets.
Why not let the PUBLIC decide what’s got news value and what doesn’t?
If members of the PUBLIC express interest, doesn’t that indicate PUBLIC interest?
What are we expected to do? Organise a petition?
This is a small but not isolated case of ABC staff behaving like tin-pot dictators. Has the malevolent arrogance that so enrages informed people aghast at its one-sided coverage of certain overseas conflicts permeated the entire organisation?
I’ve always believed that funding a national – and local – public broadcaster is worth doing. But there must be truthfulness, diligence, accountability and responsiveness to the public.
If the local ABC can’t be bothered to keep a publicly accessible archive of its own unique material of the ongoing political debate in this region, it should lose its contract.
The public should not have to beg or pay twice for information about our own democratic process – just as we should not have to plead for truthfulness.
Mark Scott, ABC Managing Director; such a lovely portrait it would be a shame if more people don't see it
Please note: all images on this webpage are the copyright property of the publicly funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
If the ABC hierarchy wishes them deleted a phone call will suffice and I’ll strip the webpage bare of offending material, with a humble apology for inconvenience caused. The local station has my number.
Of course, it would be discriminatory if only my website alone is required to do this, so I presume any such instruction would be extended to all websites bearing any images sourced from the ABC website.
Before embarking on this course, ABC management may reflect on whether they wish to attract howls of derision from thousands of webmasters and web-mistresses – all for behaving as though it has an impediment at the read end of the alimentary canal.
You may be able to shrug me off Mr Scott – but beware the wrath of the blogosphere en bloc.